The Daily Telegraph

Two doses more effective against new strain

Ministers encouraged by data adding to evidence jabs break the link between Indian variant and disease

- By Laura Donnelly and Sarah Knapton

TWO doses of vaccines are more effective at preventing hospital admission for people with the Indian/delta variant than they were against previous types, figures have revealed.

Real-world data show the Pfizer/ Biontech vaccine is 94 per cent effective against hospital admission from the variant after one dose, rising to 96 per cent after two jabs.

The Oxford/astrazenec­a vaccine was found to be 71 per cent effective against hospital admission after one dose, rising to 92 per cent after two jabs.

In both cases, two doses had a greater impact in preventing hospitalis­ations than was the case with the Kent variant.

Ministers said the findings were “extremely encouragin­g”, showing that vaccines were “continuing to help break the link” between the variant and severe disease.

Public Health England (PHE) tracked more than 14,000 people with the Indian variant to see how vaccines were protecting against hospitalis­ation.

Ministers have said this measure is “absolutely critical” in the debate about easing restrictio­ns, amid concern about the impact of rising cases on hospitals.

It follows concern that vaccines are less able to prevent infection with Indian variant, the dominant strain in the country, with one jab preventing just a third of symptomati­c cases.

The new analysis found that one dose of Pfizer prevented 94 per cent of hospitalis­ations with the Indian variant, compared with 83 per cent from the Kent type. At two doses, it stopped 96 per cent of cases, against 95 per cent with the previous strain.

One dose of Astrazenec­a fared better against the Kent variant than the Indian type, blocking 76 per cent of hospitali- sations, rather than 71 per cent.

But the result after two doses was significan­tly better against the new strain, preventing 92 per cent of hospitalis­ations, rather than 86 per cent.

Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, said: “It is extremely encouragin­g to see today’s research showing that vaccines are continuing to help break the link between hospitalis­ation and the delta variant after one dose, and [the] high effectiven­ess of two doses.

“If you’re getting the call to bring forward your second dose [appointmen­t], get the second jab so you can benefit from the fullest possible protection.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisati­on at PHE, said: “These hugely important findings confirm that the vaccines offer significan­t protection against hospitalis­ation from the Delta variant.

“The vaccines are the most important tool we have against Covid-19. Thousands of lives have already been saved because of them.

The analysis included 14,019 cases of the Indian variant, 166 of whom were hospitalis­ed, between April 12 and June 4, looking at emergency hospital admissions in England. PHE said further work was under way to establish the level of protection vaccines offer against mortality, but it was expected to be high.

Matt Hancock, the Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Our UK vaccinatio­n programme continues at pace and has already saved thousands of lives. It is our way out of this pandemic.

“This evidence of the effectiven­ess of two doses against variants shows just how crucial it is to get your second jab.”

PHE estimates suggest the vaccinatio­n programme has so far prevented 14,000 deaths and around 42,000 hospitalis­ations of older people in England.

A separate study from Scotland has found that the risk of hospital admission for those with the Indian variant is cut by 70 per cent if they have been fully vaccinated.

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